From 1 April 2006, there are changes to the way you are charged for dental work done by NHS dentists.
There will be three standard dental charges depending on the amount of treatment given and how complicated it is.
New dental charges
The cheapest charge will be £15.50 and the most expensive £189.
From April, the current roster of 400 different dental charges for treatments will be replaced by just three:
£15.50 — examination, diagnosis and preventative care including X-rays, scale and polish
£42.40 — fillings, root canal treatment, extractions
£189 — complex courses of treatment and procedures such as the fitting of crowns, dentures or bridges
No charge — writing a prescription, removing stitches, repairs to dentures
People who are currently exempt from paying NHS dental charges, for example because they are on a low income, are pregnant or under 18, will continue to be exempt.
Who gets free treatment?
When treatment starts;
aged under 18
aged 18 and in full time education
pregnant, or have had baby in last 12 month
NHS inpatient; only treatment by hospital dentist
NHS Dental Service outpatient
Community Service dental patient
When treatment starts or when the charge is made
Who is in charge?
Your local primary care trust (PCT) will now be responsible for making sure there is an NHS dentist in your area. This means that if your NHS dentist changes to take on private patients only and there is no other NHS dentist nearby, your PCT must make sure that another dentist takes on NHS patients.
This may mean that you have to travel several miles to an NHS dentist.
Local deals mean that the effect on dentists and their practices is partly dependent on how much money the local PCT has, and partly dependent on how tough they try to be when negotiating with local dentists.
Many reports suggest that a lot of dental practices are not happy with the changes, particularly, where those who are not prepared to treat adults on the NHS, are forced to cease treating children free on the NHS.
Will NHS costs increase?
Some costs will fall, but others, such as fillings, will rise substantially.
What do NHS dentists do?
They provide all clinically necessary treatments and dentures.
What will NHS dentists charge extra for?
If you would like, or the dentist suggests, treatment that is cosmetic, the dentist may offer this as a private service where you have to pay for e.g. tooth whitening, large white fillings or white crowns on back teeth.
What about children?
At present, many non-NHS dentists will offer free NHS treatment for children. Information suggests that very few will do this after April. One problem is that, if they treat children free, they can no longer accept children as NHS patients on the condition that the parents sign up as a private patient.
Increasingly, we all understand that prevention is better than cure. But for reasons that we do not understand, the new system now suggests that if you have good oral health you will no longer need regular 6 monthly check ups.
The guidelines for those with good oral health is now a check up every 12 to 24 months. Those with poorer oral health may need more regular check ups, but the criteria for this is very vague.
Many dentists are very worried that if they do NHS work that “a time and motion cost effectiveness approach” will mean much less time is spent on preventative work. Making check ups less regular, means it could take much longer to identify a problem, and that it will be more advanced and costly to treat, when it is spotted.
Even if you want to rely on the NHS, unless you are lucky enough to get free treatment, you will have to pay for NHS treatment. Under the NHS, you will still have to pay extra for cosmetic work. You can pay out of your own pocket, and hope that the bills are not too high and come at a convenient time.
Or you could budget properly by taking out dental insurance.
Some dentists who are going private are offering maintenance plans to existing NHS patients as an alternative to being deregistered with that practice.
Read our dental insurance guide
Get a quote
You can get a quote or request further information about different private dental insurance schemes / dental plans by going to our get a quote page.